June 19, 2002
.BY THE TIME THE WHITE HOUSE WAS FORCED TO ADMIT, on May 16, that it had felt prior tremors of the September 11th attacks, your humble author was busy with writing the following online book, after many weeks of research. Old friends had stopped talking to me because I refused to accept the U.S. government's official story of 9/11; or perhaps I should admit, because I refused to shut up about it. Others smiled, told me I was nuts, and ordered a round of whiskey for all. I was tired of feeling like I lived on a different planet from most of the people I knew, and I was tired of being forced to state a view contrary to the majority's in three sound bites or less. So I resolved, like hundreds of others, to present my thoughts on the Internet, where I could add documentation. Even if no one read it, it might free me from the vision of that plane smacking into Tower 1.
The work went slowly. I wanted to be scholarly, encyclopedic. Better to be true and boring, I figured, than exciting and wrong. I owed at least that much gravitas to my stubborn old city, after the ruthless massacre of its bravest heroes and of so many innocents from its 70 nations.
My report began with a confession that my opinion was exotic:
A majority of Americans still accept the story, as told by their government, that the great crime of September 11th was carried out entirely by a conspiracy of Islamic fundamentalists... (and that) no U.S. government agency possessed foreknowledge of the perpetrators, or of the plan, useful enough to prevent the disaster.Now I can revise that. Now some who laughed are returning to admit I had a point. The White House was warned of imminent attacks, they say - contrary to all previous claims, I might add. Lamentably, the government failed to "connect the dots" in time.
And all I can say is: Beware the new spin! Nearly every detail of last month's White House admissions was known to alert readers of the press long before May 16, 2002. The controlled revelations were designed to cover up a much higher level of foreknowledge and possible complicity among members of the government, and to immunize against the danger that the ongoing Congressional investigation into Sept. 11 reveals more devastating facts.
In the administration's new cover-up, existing agencies like the FBI, CIA, INS and the National Security Agency are said to have failed to "connect the dots" due to incompetence, bureaucracy or chaotic structures. The new official story is being used to justify the proposed Homeland Security plan, which is to combine the Secret Service, the INS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) into one department, and to integrate federal police, secret police, counterterror, emergency, domestic surveillance, data and intelligence functions within a single, all-seeing structure reminiscent of a totalitarian regime.
The real evidence, however, suggests that the FBI's pre-Sept. 11 counterterror investigations were intentionally obstructed from within the government, so as to allow an attack to take place - with the possible motive that an attack would provide the pretext for a campaign of foreign wars and domestic repression, including the establishment of Homeland Security, America's future Stasi.
To most people these theses sound bold and unlikely. Presenting evidence in their support requires many hours. But the first step, to demonstrate that the new cover-up is a lie, is child's play. In the White House spin control of May 16, Condoleeza Rice told the press that Bush was briefed on Aug. 6, 2001 about Qaeda designs to hijack planes in the United States. (We have since learned that the Aug. 6 memorandum to Bush, which the administration refuses to release, was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S.") But no one in the administration, Rice insisted, ever dreamed these aircraft could be used in kamikaze attacks.
A naked lie! During the G-8 summit conference in Genoa in July 2001, where President Bush (and his national security adviser, Rice) met the leaders of the world's other rich industrial countries, the Italian authorities closed Genoa Airport and set up anti-aircraft missiles around the summit location. Why? To defend against the threat that operatives of Osama Binladin might seize a plane and crash it into President Bush's hotel. News reporters doubted this was credible at the time, but the Italians insisted they had received specific warnings of such plans. (Sources: International Herald Tribune, July 16 and 20 and Sept. 27, 2001, LA Times, Sept. 27.) After the attacks, the Italians emphasized that they had informed the U.S. president's entourage of the danger. Gianfranco Fini, the Italian deputy prime minister, had this to say:
Many people were ironic about the Italian secret services. But in fact they got the information that there was the possibility of an attack against the U.S. president using an airliner. That's why we closed the airspace and installed the missiles. Those who made cracks should now think a little. (TV interview, Sept. 2001 reported by ANSA news agency, quoted in LA Times, Sept. 27.)Surely the president recalled this warning of a dramatic threat to his life, when he received the intelligence briefing of Aug. 6, just two weeks after returning from Genoa. How did he and how did the White House fail to combine the idea of "Qaeda+Suicide Airplane Attack in Genoa" with the idea of "Qaeda+Hijacking in the United States"?
And surely the administration did not miss the other high-level intelligence dispatches from U.S. allies that summer. Warnings of an imminent terrorist attack on the United States were delivered by the governments of France, Germany, Israel, Britain, Russia, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt. (News reports on each of these are reviewed on this site.) Here it will suffice to note that several of the foreign agencies, including the Russians, warned specifically that Qaeda pilots were being trained for kamikaze attacks inside the United States, and that sources within the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, now claim they even passed on the names of men who were later identified as Sept. 11 hijackers.
Every political reporter in the world can recall the story of last year's threat to Bush in Genoa. Yet this, typically, is how ABCNEWS.com presents the information, in a timeline of May 18:
The threat was "specific," but ABCNEWS refuses to specify -- presumably because the well-known details make trash of the administration's cover story that kamikaze attacks were unthinkable! Whether consciously or not, a reporter who fails to make this connection is serving the cover-up.Mid July, 2001: Concern addressed about specific threat against President Bush at G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy, which brought together eight countries with the most powerful economies.
I emphasize the Genoa story in combination with Rice's May 16 statement not because of its importance, but because of the sheer implausibility of the lie. Apparently the administration can and will say anything, no matter how obviously false, and expects people to believe on faith. This is hardly the first time the government has been caught lying about 9/11, or the first time that the press is letting them get away with it. In the days after the attacks, the White House produced a series of mutually contradictory stories about supposed threats to the president on Sept. 11.
Why do people have faith in anything the Bush administration says?
Fear has a lot to do with it. After witnessing such sudden and random mass murder on television, who really wants to mistrust the government that is supposed to protect them? Cover-up campaigns take advantage of that basic feeling by offering several layers of deception and escapism.
The gullible can go ahead and believe the administration failed to anticipate kamikaze attacks, because they were unthinkable, although the president received protection against exactly this type of attack two weeks earlier.
Doubters are encouraged to focus on the Aug. 6 White House briefing, or on the FBI's "Phoenix memo," or on the Colleen Rowley memo, as though one of these provides all the answers. Vital as the release of documents may be, the minutiae tend to divert from the big picture.
In a trick that dates back to the Nixon era, serious news junkies are lead to ask, "What did the president know and when did he know it?" As though all the world hinges on one person, who in reality might be isolated from the actual decision-making process!
The most skeptical are allowed to choose the comforting idea that the government failed to connect the many pre-Sept. 11 dots into a useful picture, and is therefore incompetent beyond measure. Incompetent, but well-meaning. A stumblebum, but a good guy.
Those who still refuse to believe can choose apathy and nihilism. Or they can plunge into the flood of conflicting facts, theories, legends, disinformation and possible truths available from the foreign press, the alternative press, and the Internet, where a few well-planted deceptive rumors and fantastic fairy tales can sow further confusion and discredit the very idea of skepticism.
Against the machinery of a complex cover-up carried out by officials who have the authority of political leadership, it is hard to avoid being distracted from the indispensable first question, which is not "who knew what when," but
Some people insist on knowing, and they never shut up. So on May 17, the day after Rice's bogus White House confession, Dick Cheney came out of his bunker with new threats for the rabble who would question his administration's actions. An open investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks is dangerous as long as the nation is at war, Cheney said. How convenient. He previously said he expects the "War on Terror" to last another 50 years. Cheney and Rice made the rounds of the media that Sunday (May 20) to warn that horrible new attacks are coming, though neither would say what, when or where. This was a desperate, naked attempt to scare people into silence.
The media took the cue and have since rehashed every possible terror scenario, from poisoned water at Disneyworld to walk-in suicide bombers at the Mall of America to suitcase nukes in Los Angeles. The FBI issued almost daily warnings based on the testimony of Abu Zubaydah, an alleged Qaeda lieutenant captured in Pakistan and reportedly being held at Camp X-Ray in Guantanomo Bay, Cuba. Zubaydah's picture as a captive has never been published, and he has never been directly quoted by the government spokespersons who report on his remarks. Assuming he really is one of the terrorist masterminds behind Sept. 11, as the U.S. government says, and assuming he really has been captured alive, Zubaydah is no doubt thrilled that with just a few choice words to his interrogators, he can cause great panic among the American people.
That aim is also shared by the Bush administration, which always acts as though it could really use another attack. Sooner, rather than later. After all, people have become apathetic to the multiple and vague daily warnings, some of which Zubaydah allegedly says were inspired by the movie "Godzilla." People might return to the questions they were asking on May 16.
Suddenly, on June 10th, a real threat finally seemed to materialize. At an appearance in Moscow, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the arrest of a U.S. citizen with alleged Qaeda connections, who had plans to build a radiological bomb and detonate it in Washington. After the initial shock, and descriptions of what a "dirty bomb" might do, a few real details starting trickling out. It turned out Jose Padilla had been arrested on May 8. Why did Ashcroft choose June 10 and Moscow to make the announcement? Padilla had not actually built anything yet. Who tipped off the authorities as to his identity? "Abu Zubaydah." Is there sufficient evidence of the alleged bomber's plan? We may never know, since the alleged planner is being held indefinitely as an "enemy combatant" (much like the crown witness, Zubaydah) and has no right to counsel. But what state is the enemy?
Of course I support the arrest and prosecution of anyone who plans to blow up a dirty bomb in Washington! As even the mainstream press has noted, however, denying a U.S. citizen his right to counsel, habeas corpus, and a court trial is a fatal precedent. If it stands, the government will gain the power to legally imprison anyone, indefinitely, on suspicion of thought-crime. On the same day as Ashcroft's announcement, June 10, Cheney presented his views on homeland security to the press. Also on the same day, the most prominent 9/11 Skeptics event to date was held. Relatives of 9/11 victims, former government officials and investigative journalists posed "Unanswered Questions" at the National Press Club in Washington. Tragically, C-SPAN reversed an earlier decision to cover the press conference, despite a flood of phone calls from viewers demanding that the event be broadcast. Instead, C-SPAN devoted its airtime to Cheney and, in a touch of irony, a planning meeting on the renovation of the Pentagon. Apparently, the mechanics of repairing the building are much more interesting to C-SPAN than the story of how it was hit in the first place.
The month of stage-managed panic since the White House admission of May 16 has fulfilled at least one of its functions by distracting from the Sept. 11 revelations. What about those? Oh, yeah. Well, Cheney said that releasing the FBI Phoenix memo "to the press and public... would destroy our capacity to deal with future threats" (Washington Post, May 20). How so? This memo, readers may recall, was written by an FBI agent in advance of Sept. 11. He raised the possibility of aerial suicide attacks, and called on the FBI to investigate flight school students. The agent's proposal was killed, apparently at the middle levels of the FBI. The Phoenix memo has nothing to do with new threats. Cheney himself knows there is nothing shocking or dangerous in the memo's content that has not already been revealed. What frightens him is the precedent. He opposes the release of any Sept. 11 documents.
Bush and Cheney know that secrecy is their lifeblood. Cheney is fighting the Congress and courts to keep memos of his meetings with executives of Enron and other energy companies secret. As part of the same pattern, Bush claimed personal ownership of state papers from his term as Texas governor, when he also dealt with Enron, and has spirited these to his own library. Ashcroft ordered all federal agencies to resist all requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. Bush issued an order to block the automatic release of Reagan-era presidential documents to historians, as required under the law. These might shed light on the dealings of his father, then vice-president, and may even mention a CIA asset in the anti-Soviet Afghanistan jihad of the time, Osama Binladin, who was a U.S. client at least until 1989 -- and who maintained confirmed contacts with the CIA-allied intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, right up until Sept. 2001.
Cheney's threats be damned. The only goal of the Bush administration's 9/11 cover-up is to keep the American public ignorant and confused. Just like the news of forewarnings is actually old, many of the "secrets" that Cheney wants to suppress have already been reported in the foreign and alternative press, and even in isolated major American media.
Here are a few of the news items reported in the mainstream or foreign press or by other usually reliable sources and covered in detail in the following report:
After six months of investigation and more than 1,300 arrestsand detentions in the United States, and with 600 mostly unidentified suspects still being held on mostly unspecified charges, Tom Ridge said in March that the government had yet to find a single Qaeda cell operating in the United States (London Times, Mar. 11). In April, the directorof the FBI confessed that his agency lacked definitive evidence againstthe alleged perpetrators of 9/11:The CIA followed Mohamed Atta around Germany during the first six months of 2000, before he even came to the United States. The CIA did not inform the German authorities of its observation of Atta or of other presumed Qaeda members in Germany and Europe, reaching back at least four years. While under surveillance, Atta applied for a visa at the U.S. consulate in Berlin, which was approved and issued to him on May 18, 2000. This means that at least three of the alleged Sept. 11 hijackers were tracked by the CIA well in advance of the attacks. The U.S. military initially said at least five of the hijackers, including Atta, trained at U.S. bases. This was later denied.
In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper—either here in the United States or in thetreasure trove of information that has turned up in Afghanistan andelsewhere—that mentioned any aspect of the Sept. 11 plot. Robert Mueller speech at Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, April 19.All of these stories are public, from generally reliablesources or the mainstream media. Not all of them may turn out to be true,but a truly free press would want to know where they lead. Unlessand until the U.S. government can show these (and many other) stories tobe untrue, we must assume that the official theory of the attacks is aconstruct, designed to cover up
possibly a combination of all three, with no necessity ofan all-encompassing grand plot.utter and unforgivable cluelessness, or
An insiders' conspiracy actually setting up the attacks,or making use of genuine Islamic extremists as the apparent perpetrators,need not involve a large or unwieldy cast. The participating "elements"could be top officials, a cabal on the middle levels of the military orintelligence, spooks in "black ops" on the periphery of the government'scovert arms, foreign agents, or a combination. I don't pretend toknow, but I do know that corrupt governments have staged faked terrorismand faked attacks by enemies in the past. As horrible and irrational asthe idea of an "inside job" sounds, history is full of precedents, someof which we review here.
As we shall see in the report, the architects of the presentregime, including former President George H.W. Bush, in the past have committedeven worse crimes than those of Sept. 11, and shown utter disregard forthe lives of ordinary Americans. The villains of the three biggest warswaged by Bush and his son - Noriega, Saddam, and Osama - are all formerclients of the family and its administrations. The administration and othermembers of the U.S. power elite would have had many motives to let a terroristattack go ahead, exactly at the time it did, although its ferocity mayhave surprised them. There are also many precedentsfor multiple agencies of the U.S. government cooperating to successfullycover up great crimes after the fact, including actions that caused thedeaths of thousands of U.S. citizens, for decades.
We cannot rely simply on the idea that Islamic fundamentalistterrorists are fanatic, ruthless, and capable of pulling off large-scaleattacks. This is true, but proves nothing. Logic demands we consider thepossibility that the administration, or other actors beyond Qaeda, wereinvolved in the attacks. Honest inquiry must proceed from the Socraticprinciple,
Truth is what can be shown using confirmable facts andlogic, not what a state or other authority says. Until now, the administrationgot away with denying foreknowledge of the attacks. From now on, it willrely mainly on spinning the facts. By portraying the evidence of foreknowledgeas an investigative "failure" due to the laxity or incompetence of theFBI and other agencies, it seeks the justification for a new, all-encompassingand centralized police state.
Otherwise, the administration seems to fervently wishthat new and dire events will distract attention from the unraveling ofthe official 9/11 story.
Jack Riddler, June 18, 2002